Saturday, March 29, 2014

Lutheran Malaria Initiative (LMI) Update

LMI Update provides monthly news items about the Lutheran Malaria Initiative, a partnership of Lutheran World Relief and The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod to mobilize U.S. Lutherans in the global effort to eliminate malaria deaths in Africa.

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Thursday, March 27, 2014

Worship Notes for Sunday, Lent IV - 2014

Thursday after Lent III
March 27, 2014

The Lord be with you

This coming Sunday is the Fourth Sunday in Lent. During the Lenten season certain elements are changed or removed from our service, to return on Easter and the Easter season. For our liturgy this coming Sunday we will be using the Service of Prayer and Preaching (page 260) for our liturgy. The changes include substituting the “First Song of Isaiah (aka Confitebor tibi, Domine) (LSB 927) and using the Lenten versicles on pages 260 and 263. (This is a non-communion service.)

The assigned lections for Sunday are Isaiah 42:14-21; Ephesians 5:8-14; and John 9:1-41. The Gospel lesson is rather long, being the entire ninth chapter of John. It will also serve as the text for the sermon. I will be preaching an “expository” sermon using the Gospel lesson. This means, basically, I will be going through the Gospel lesson making comments throughout. To avoid reading the lesson twice in the service, we will skip reading the Gospel lesson in its normal place. You may follow the lesson throughout the message. The sermon is titled, “A Blind Man’s Story.”

Our opening hymn will be “Jesus, Grant That Balm and Healing” (LSB 421). Our sermon hymn will be “Amazing Grace” (LSB 744). Our closing hymn will be “Come unto Me, Ye Weary” (LSB 684).

Below is a video of our closing hymn, “Come unto Me, Ye Weary.” The words are in the video, but no one is singing.

Our Sunday morning Bible hour begins at 9:00 am. We continue with Colossians.

The April newsletter should be online before Sunday. Print copies will be available at church for those who don’t have internet access.

Below is the summary of the lessons provided by the LCMS.

By His Word of the Gospel,
Jesus Calls Us Out of the Darkness into His Marvelous Light
The Lord is grieved by the spiritual blindness of His people, yet in mercy He does not forsake them. He restrains His anger and keeps His peace, until He opens their ears and eyes to hear and see Him. “For his righteousness’ sake,” He magnifies His Word and makes it glorious in the coming of Christ Jesus (Is. 42:21). Jesus turns “the darkness before them into light” (Is. 42:16) because He is “the light of the world” (John 9:5). The incarnate Son of God does the works of His Father and displays the divine glory in His own flesh “while it is day” until that night “when no one can work” (John 9:4). By the washing of water with His Word, He opens the eyes of the blind and grants rest to the weary. Therefore, though “at one time you were darkness,” now “you are light in the Lord” (Eph. 5:8). By our Baptism into Christ, we live in the eternal day of His resurrection, wherein He shines upon us. As often as we fall back into the darkness of sin, He calls us by the Gospel to “awake, O sleeper, and arise from the dead” (Eph. 5:14).

Sunday’s Lessons

Isaiah 42:14-21
14For a long time I have held my peace;
I have kept still and restrained myself;
now I will cry out like a woman in labor;
I will gasp and pant.
15I will lay waste mountains and hills,
and dry up all their vegetation;
I will turn the rivers into islands,
and dry up the pools.
16And I will lead the blind
in a way that they do not know,
in paths that they have not known
I will guide them.
I will turn the darkness before them into light,
the rough places into level ground.
These are the things I do,
and I do not forsake them.
17They are turned back and utterly put to shame,
who trust in carved idols,
who say to metal images,
“You are our gods.”
18Hear, you deaf,
and look, you blind, that you may see!
19Who is blind but my servant,
or deaf as my messenger whom I send?
Who is blind as my dedicated one,
or blind as the servant of the Lord?
20He sees many things, but does not observe them;
his ears are open, but he does not hear.
21The Lord was pleased, for his righteousness' sake,
to magnify his law and make it glorious.

Ephesians 5:8-14
8[F]or at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light 9(for the fruit of light is found in all that is good and right and true), 10and try to discern what is pleasing to the Lord. 11Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them. 12For it is shameful even to speak of the things that they do in secret. 13But when anything is exposed by the light, it becomes visible, 14for anything that becomes visible is light. Therefore it says,
          “Awake, O sleeper,
                   and arise from the dead,
          and Christ will shine on you.”

John 9:1-41
9:1       As he passed by, he saw a man blind from birth. 2And his disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” 3Jesus answered, “It was not that this man sinned, or his parents, but that the works of God might be displayed in him. 4We must work the works of him who sent me while it is day; night is coming, when no one can work. 5As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.” 6Having said these things, he spit on the ground and made mud with the saliva. Then he anointed the man's eyes with the mud 7and said to him, “Go, wash in the pool of Siloam” (which means Sent). So he went and washed and came back seeing.
8         The neighbors and those who had seen him before as a beggar were saying, “Is this not the man who used to sit and beg?” 9Some said, “It is he.” Others said, “No, but he is like him.” He kept saying, “I am the man.” 10So they said to him, “Then how were your eyes opened?” 11He answered, “The man called Jesus made mud and anointed my eyes and said to me, ‘Go to Siloam and wash.’ So I went and washed and received my sight.” 12They said to him, “Where is he?” He said, “I do not know.”
13        They brought to the Pharisees the man who had formerly been blind. 14Now it was a Sabbath day when Jesus made the mud and opened his eyes. 15So the Pharisees again asked him how he had received his sight. And he said to them, “He put mud on my eyes, and I washed, and I see.” 16Some of the Pharisees said, “This man is not from God, for he does not keep the Sabbath.” But others said, “How can a man who is a sinner do such signs?” And there was a division among them. 17So they said again to the blind man, “What do you say about him, since he has opened your eyes?” He said, “He is a prophet.”
18        The Jews did not believe that he had been blind and had received his sight, until they called the parents of the man who had received his sight 19and asked them, “Is this your son, who you say was born blind? How then does he now see?” 20His parents answered, “We know that this is our son and that he was born blind. 21But how he now sees we do not know, nor do we know who opened his eyes. Ask him; he is of age. He will speak for himself.” 22(His parents said these things because they feared the Jews, for the Jews had already agreed that if anyone should confess Jesus to be Christ, he was to be put out of the synagogue.) 23Therefore his parents said, “He is of age; ask him.”
24        So for the second time they called the man who had been blind and said to him, “Give glory to God. We know that this man is a sinner.” 25He answered, “Whether he is a sinner I do not know. One thing I do know, that though I was blind, now I see.” 26They said to him, “What did he do to you? How did he open your eyes?” 27He answered them, “I have told you already, and you would not listen. Why do you want to hear it again? Do you also want to become his disciples?” 28And they reviled him, saying, “You are his disciple, but we are disciples of Moses. 29We know that God has spoken to Moses, but as for this man, we do not know where he comes from.” 30The man answered, “Why, this is an amazing thing! You do not know where he comes from, and yet he opened my eyes. 31We know that God does not listen to sinners, but if anyone is a worshiper of God and does his will, God listens to him. 32Never since the world began has it been heard that anyone opened the eyes of a man born blind. 33If this man were not from God, he could do nothing.” 34They answered him, “You were born in utter sin, and would you teach us?” And they cast him out.
35        Jesus heard that they had cast him out, and having found him he said, “Do you believe in the Son of Man?” 36He answered, “And who is he, sir, that I may believe in him?” 37Jesus said to him, “You have seen him, and it is he who is speaking to you.” 38He said, “Lord, I believe,” and he worshiped him. 39Jesus said, “For judgment I came into this world, that those who do not see may see, and those who see may become blind.” 40Some of the Pharisees near him heard these things, and said to him, “Are we also blind?” 41Jesus said to them, “If you were blind, you would have no guilt; but now that you say, ‘We see,’ your guilt remains.

Just two quick notes
I will be leaving extremely early Monday morning to attend a Circuit Visitors (formerly Circuit Counselor) meeting in Virginia. I will be returning Tuesday, late.

Many enjoy the Lutheran Warbler, whose videos are often used in my worship notes to give you a preview of one of Sunday’s hymns. She now has a Lenten CD available. If interested, just watch the video below.

Well, I pray we will see you Sunday morning.

Blessings in Christ,
Pastor John Rickert

Friday, March 21, 2014

Worship for Lent III - 2014

Friday after Lent II
March 21, 2014

The Lord be with you

This coming Sunday is the Third Sunday in Lent. During the Lenten season certain elements are changed or removed from our service, to return on Easter and the Easter season. For our liturgy this coming Sunday we will be using the third setting of the Divine Service (page 184). The changes include omitting the Gloria In Excelsis (page 187) and all Alleluias. Divine Three is a communion service. To prepare for the Lord’s Supper you may review the Christian Questions with Their Answers from Luther’s Small Catechism (page 329 in the hymnal).  

The assigned lections for Sunday are Exodus 17:1-7; Romans 5:1-8; and John 4:5-30, 39-42. The text for the sermon is Exodus 17:7. The sermon is titled “Is God With Us?” Our opening hymn is “Not All the Blood of Beasts,” LSB 431. The sermon hymn is “O God, Forsake Me Not,” LSB 731. Our closing hymn is “When Peace, Like a River,” LSB 763. Our distribution hymns will be “If God Himself Be For Me,” LSB 724, “O Christ, You Walked the Road,” LSB 424, and “On My Heart Imprint Your Image,” LSB 422.

Below is a video of what sounds like a men’s quartet singing our opening hymn, “Not All the Blood of Beasts.”   

Our Sunday morning Bible hour begins at 9:00 am. We continue with Colossians.

Information for our April newsletter is due Sunday.

Below is the summary of the lessons provided by the LCMS.

We Worship the Father of Our Lord Jesus Christ in the Spirit and Truth of His Gospel
Though the Lord had brought them out of Egypt, “all the congregation of the people of Israel” grumbled against Him because “there was no water for the people to drink” (Ex. 17:1). Despite their quarreling, the Lord graciously provided for them. He did not strike the people for their sins, but by the hand of Moses He struck the rock instead and brought forth water for the people. In the same way, living water flows from the pierced side of Christ at “about the sixth hour” (John 4:6, 19:14), when He is lifted up on the cross for the sins of the world. He is “the gift of God” (John 4:10), the well from which the Holy Spirit is poured out and becomes in His people “a spring of water welling up to eternal life” (John 4:14). By this grace in which we stand, being at peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, we “worship the Father in spirit and truth” (John 4:23). “We rejoice in hope of the glory of God” because “God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us” (Rom. 5:2, 5).

Sunday’s Lessons
Exodus 17:1-7
17:1      All the congregation of the people of Israel moved on from the wilderness of Sin by stages, according to the commandment of the Lord, and camped at Rephidim, but there was no water for the people to drink. 2Therefore the people quarreled with Moses and said, “Give us water to drink.” And Moses said to them, “Why do you quarrel with me? Why do you test the Lord?” 3But the people thirsted there for water, and the people grumbled against Moses and said, “Why did you bring us up out of Egypt, to kill us and our children and our livestock with thirst?” 4So Moses cried to the Lord, “What shall I do with this people? They are almost ready to stone me.” 5And the Lord said to Moses, “Pass on before the people, taking with you some of the elders of Israel, and take in your hand the staff with which you struck the Nile, and go. 6Behold, I will stand before you there on the rock at Horeb, and you shall strike the rock, and water shall come out of it, and the people will drink.” And Moses did so, in the sight of the elders of Israel. 7And he called the name of the place Massah and Meribah, because of the quarreling of the people of Israel, and because they tested the Lord by saying, “Is the Lord among us or not?”

Romans 5:1-8
5:1       Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. 2Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. 3Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, 4and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, 5and hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.
6         For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. 7For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die—8but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

John 4:5-30, 39-42
5         So he came to a town of Samaria called Sychar, near the field that Jacob had given to his son Joseph. 6Jacob's well was there; so Jesus, wearied as he was from his journey, was sitting beside the well. It was about the sixth hour.
7         A woman from Samaria came to draw water. Jesus said to her, “Give me a drink.” 8(For his disciples had gone away into the city to buy food.) 9The Samaritan woman said to him, “How is it that you, a Jew, ask for a drink from me, a woman of Samaria?” (For Jews have no dealings with Samaritans.) 10Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is that is saying to you, ‘Give me a drink,’ you would have asked him, and he would have given you living water.” 11The woman said to him, “Sir, you have nothing to draw water with, and the well is deep. Where do you get that living water? 12Are you greater than our father Jacob? He gave us the well and drank from it himself, as did his sons and his livestock.” 13Jesus said to her, “Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, 14but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” 15The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water, so that I will not be thirsty or have to come here to draw water.”
16        Jesus said to her, “Go, call your husband, and come here.” 17The woman answered him, “I have no husband.” Jesus said to her, “You are right in saying, ‘I have no husband’; 18for you have had five husbands, and the one you now have is not your husband. What you have said is true.” 19The woman said to him, “Sir, I perceive that you are a prophet.20 Our fathers worshiped on this mountain, but you say that in Jerusalem is the place where people ought to worship.” 21Jesus said to her, “Woman, believe me, the hour is coming when neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem will you worship the Father. 22You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews. 23But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him. 24God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.” 25The woman said to him, “I know that Messiah is coming (he who is called Christ). When he comes, he will tell us all things.” 26Jesus said to her, “I who speak to you am he.”
27        Just then his disciples came back. They marveled that he was talking with a woman, but no one said, “What do you seek?” or, “Why are you talking with her?” 28So the woman left her water jar and went away into town and said to the people, 29“Come, see a man who told me all that I ever did. Can this be the Christ?” 30They went out of the town and were coming to him. …
39        Many Samaritans from that town believed in him because of the woman's testimony, “He told me all that I ever did.” 40So when the Samaritans came to him, they asked him to stay with them, and he stayed there two days. 41And many more believed because of his word. 42They said to the woman, “It is no longer because of what you said that we believe, for we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this is indeed the Savior of the world.”

Well, I pray we will see you Sunday morning.

Blessings in Christ,
Pastor John Rickert

Homily Posted

Friday after Lent II

The sermon from this past Wednesday's Lenten service has been posted on the sermons page. It is titled, "The Lord's Prayer for Life."

Blessings in Christ,

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Responding to Islam Lecture Streamed on Internet

Responding to Islam Lecture—March 27, 2014
Dr. Abjar Bahkou

UPDATE: Due to high interest, Concordia Seminary’s Ethnic Immigrant Institute of Theology will stream the Responding to Islam lecture live over the internet. The lecture will take place on Thursday, March 27, 2014, from 4:00 p.m. to 5:30p.m., and can be viewed live by going to Our helpdesk will be staffed to handle support calls at 1-866-333-2064 and 314-505-7231. A test stream will be up a few days before the event for people to test their computers in advance.

Concordia Seminary’s Ethnic Immigrant Institute of Theology is presenting a free lecture focusing on the themes of debate between Islam and Christianity. The lecture will take place on Thursday, March 27, 2014, from 3:30 p.m. to 5:30p.m. in Werner Auditorium on the Seminary campus.

This unique lecture is a great opportunity for faculty, pastors, missionaries, and seminarians to better understand Muslims’ objections to Christianity. Having this understanding can be a powerful tool as they learn to share their faith in multiethnic communities.

The lecture, which is entitled, “Responding to Islam: Major Theological Themes of Debate Between Islam and Christianity,” will be led by Abjar Bahkou. Raised Syrian Orthodox, Dr. Bahkou graduated from Saint Ephraim Theological Seminary in Damascus, Syria in 1993, and then completed his doctorate in Christian Education focused on youth education in contemporary Middle Eastern culture from Salesian Pontifical University in Rome, Italy in 1998. He moved to Texas in 2004 and started his doctorate research in Arabic and Islamic Studies; he earned his second Ph.D. from Pontifical Institute of Arabic and Islamic Studies in 2008. Amidst his extensive education, Dr. Bahkou holds positions at the University of North Texas and Baylor University, and has been teaching about topics on all sides of the argument regarding Christianity, Islam, and everything in between, including Arabic literature and language. In August of 2012, Dr. Bahkou was certified as an LCMS pastor.

The Ethnic Immigrant Institute of Theology (EIIT) is a program offered by Concordia Seminary. This specialized distance program focuses on training and equipping pastors who lead immigrant-based LCMS churches. Its courses are interdisciplinary and feature unique options, including opportunities to take courses completely online, or in short-term residency on the Seminary campus.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Did Jesus Really Exist? (by Dr. Paul L. Maier)

Did Jesus Really Exist?

By Paul L. Maier, The Russell H. Seibert Professor of Ancient History, Western Michigan University

"No, he didn't!" some skeptics claim, thinking that this is a quick, powerful lever with which to pry people away from "the fable of Christianity." But the lever crumbles at its very first use. In fact, there is more evidence that Jesus of Nazareth certainly lived than for most famous figures of the ancient past. This evidence is of two kinds: internal and external, or, if you will, sacred and secular. In both cases, the total evidence is so overpowering, so absolute that only the shallowest of intellects would dare to deny Jesus' existence. And yet this pathetic denial is still parroted by "the village atheist," bloggers on the internet, or such organizations as the Freedom from Religion Foundation.

The Internal Evidence
Aside from the many Messianic predictions in the Old Testament, not one of the four Gospels or the 23 other documents in the New Testament would make an ounce of sense if Jesus had never lived. Did the whole cavalcade of well-known historical personalities in the first century A.D. who interacted with Jesus deal with a vacuum? Did Herod the Great try to terminate an infant ghost? Did the Jewish high priests Annas and Caiaphas interview a spirit? Did the Roman governor Pontius Pilate judge a phantom on Good Friday, or Paul and so many apostles give their lives for a myth?
No one doubts that the above names are well known from both sacred and secular sources, as well as archaeological evidence, and are therefore historical. The same is clearly true of Jesus of Nazareth. But why, then, is Jesus not permitted the "luxury" of actually having lived as did the rest of these? Why the double standard here?
From the internal, biblical evidence alone, therefore, Jesus' existence is simply categorical. And yet there is an abundance of additional extrabiblical information on this question.

The External Evidence: Christian
Another long paragraph could be devoted to writings of the early church fathers, some of whom had close contact with New Testament personalities. Jesus' disciple John, for example, later became bishop of the church at Ephesus. One of his students was Polycarp, bishop of Smyrna, and a student of his, in turn, was Irenaeus of Lyons. The centerpiece in all of their writings was Jesus the Christ ("Messiah").
Apart from such living personal links to Jesus, both geographical and temporal tangencies appear in Justin Martyr. Born of pagan parents around A.D. 100 in Nablus (between Judea and Galilee), Justin tried and abandoned various philosophical schools until he found in Christianity the one true teaching. As a native of the Holy Land, Justin mentions sites associated with Jesus, such as the Bethlehem grotto in which he was born, and even such details as Jesus working as an apprentice carpenter in the shop of his foster father Joseph, where they specialized in producing such agricultural implements as yokes for oxen and plows.

External Evidence: Jewish
The Jewish rabbinical traditions not only mention Jesus, but they are also the only sources that spell his name accurately in Aramaic, his native tongue: Yeshua Hannotzri—Joshua (Jesus) of Nazareth. Some of the references to Jesus in the Talmud are garbled—probably due to the vagaries of oral tradition—but one is especially accurate, since it seems based on written sources and comes from the Mishna—the earliest collection of writings in the Talmud. This is no less than the arrest notice for Jesus, which runs as follows:

He shall be stoned because he has practiced sorcery and lured Israel to apostasy. Anyone who can say anything in his favor, let him come forward and plead on his behalf. Anyone who knows where he is, let him declare it to the Great Sanhedrin in Jerusalem.

Four items in this statement strongly support its authenticity as a notice composed before Jesus' arrest: 1) The future tense is used; 2) Stoning was the regular punishment for blasphemy among the Jews whenever the Roman government was not involved; 3) There is no reference whatever to crucifixion; and 4) That Jesus was performing "sorcery"— the extraordinary or miraculous with a negative spin—is quite remarkable. This not only invokes what historians call the "criterion of embarrassment," which proves what is conceded, but accords perfectly with how Jesus' opponents explained away his miraculous healings: performing them with the help of Beelzebul (Luke 11:18).

Moreover, the first-century Jewish historian, Flavius Josephus, twice mentions "Jesus who is called the Christ" in his Jewish Antiquities. In the second of these, he tells of the death of Jesus' half-brother James the Just of Jerusalem (20:200). And two books earlier, in the longest first-century non-biblical reference to Christ, he tells of Jesus midway through his discussion of events in Pontius Pilate's administration:

At this time there was a wise man called Jesus, and his conduct was good, and he was known to be virtuous. Many people among the Jews and the other nations became his disciples. Pilate condemned him to be crucified and to die. But those who had become his disciples did not abandon his discipleship. They reported that he had appeared to them three days after his crucifixion and that he was alive. Accordingly, he was perhaps the Messiah, concerning whom the prophets have reported wonders. And the tribe of the Christians, so named after him, has not disappeared to this day. (18:63)

This is the recent, uninterpolated text that replaces the traditional version which, unfortunately, had suffered early interpolation. For a more detailed evaluation of Josephus and his references to Jesus, please see my separate article on Josephus in this series.

External Evidence: Secular
Cornelius Tacitus, one of the most reliable source historians of first-century Rome, wrote in his Annals a year-by-year account of events in the Roman Empire under the early Caesars. Among the highlights that he reports for the year A.D. 64 was the great fire of Rome. People blamed the emperor Nero for this conflagration since it happened "on his watch," but in order to save himself, Nero switched the blame to "the Christians," which is the first time they appear in secular history. Careful historian that he was, Tacitus then explains who "the Christians" were: "Christus, the founder of the name, had undergone the death penalty in the reign of Tiberius, by sentence of the procurator Pontius Pilatus" (15:44). He then goes on to report the horrors that were inflicted on the Christians in what became their first Roman persecution.

Tacitus, it should be emphasized, was not some Christian historian who was trying to prove that Jesus Christ really lived, but a pagan who despised Christians as a "disease," a term he uses later in the passage. Had Jesus never even existed, he would have been the first to expose that pathetic phantom on whom such cultists placed their trust. Were no other references to Jesus available, this passage alone would have been sufficient to establish his historicity. Skeptics realize this, and so have tried every imaginable means to discredit this passage—but to no avail. Manuscript analysis and computer studies have never found any reason to call this sentence into question, nor its context.

Gaius Suetonius Tranquillus also recorded events of the first century in his famous Lives of the Twelve Caesars. He, too, regarded the Christians as a sect "professing a new and mischievous religious belief" (Nero 16) and doubtless cited "Christus" as well, spelling his name "Chrestus" (Claudius 25). That the vowels "e" and "i" were often interchangeable is demonstrated by the French term for "Christian" to this day: chretien.

Pliny the Younger was the Roman governor of Bithynia—today, the northwestern corner of Turkey—and about the year 110 he wrote the emperor Trajan (98-117 A.D.), asking what to do about the Christians, a "wretched cult" whom he mentions eight times in his letter. Christ himself is cited three times, the most famous instance referring to Christians "...who met on a fixed day to chant verses alternately among themselves in honor of Christ, as if to a god..." (Letter No. 96). Trajan's response, interestingly enough, suggests that Christians not be hunted out. (Ibid., No. 97). But again, if Christ were only a mythical character, these hostile sources would have been the first to emblazon that fact in derision.

Other ancient secular sources, such as Theudas and Mara bar Serapion also bear witness to the historicity of Jesus. But any further evidence clearly comes under the "beating a dead horse" category so far as this article is concerned. Nothing more is necessary in view of the overpowering evidence that Jesus of Nazareth was no myth, but a totally historical figure who truly lived. Skeptics should focus instead on whether or not Jesus was more than a man. That, at least, could evoke a reasonable debate among reasonable inquirers, rather than a pointless discussion with sensationalists who struggle to reject the obvious.